After making a hospital last week, I drove to the booth to pay the parking fee. They young lady at the booth saw my Roman Collar and asked “Is it true that you can’t be married?” I said, “Yes, I may not be married, but I am married to Jesus and to the Church.” She responded by saying, “That is beautiful!”.
According to statistics, Rhode Island, my home state is the most Catholic in the United States. We are “53%”. That is a bit of a drop since I remember it being about 65% in the past. However, even with 53% Catholic, maybe 25% of the 53% probably practice the faith by attending Mass weekly. I would dare to say that most Catholics have an elementary level of Religious Education at best.
My point is this. Even a young immigrant woman, who came from a Catholic country & culture did not really know that a priest is celibate, she had to ask. I think that gives more urgency to the New Evangelization, but also to the long practiced forms of evangelization. I did not say or do anything to make this young woman think, all she had to do was look at me wearing the Roman Collar.
The collar, cassock and Religious habit are strong signs pointing to the Other, namely Christ and His Church. In fact, the clerical dress is not only a sign telling all who see me who I am, it is a counter cultural sign. All who see the Roman Collar, the cassock and the Religious habit know we are called to chastity/ celibacy. They may not know why, but it all points to the kingdom.